Something is inherently random about life and it bothers everyone, especially in the modern era. Everyone deep inside is straining to find direction and substance for their painfully short lifespan: everyone is “waiting for Godot,” as Beckett so famously framed it in his existentialist drama.
We’re left waiting for Godot in a world of random chance, random conversations with random people in Beckett’s world, but always the characters hope for “Godot” to arrive—the French name for “god”, although it’s clear Beckett is not wholly concerned with any one “god”. Godot is somebody the characters believe will give meaning to their existence, but the skeptic among them repeatedly points out it’s useless waiting for Godot, because the time is here and now to have meaning, not later, because we live now, not later. And anyway, is does “Godot” really exist? Can I ever find substance and purpose in someone else, he asks, if I don’t have it myself already?
Becket paints the despair of our modern plight: we yearn for purpose, significance, to feel important, and to have this all tied to someone else outside ourselves. Yet can such a person exist? That’s the despair of living in a world where everyone is yearning to find Godot: they need my attention and admiration, but I need theirs! It is never enough to feel self-important: I also need someone else to view me that way before I’m satisfied with my significance. Since the beginning of recorded time humans have littered history with massive monoliths, architecture and art that testify to the deep need for others to see something significant about our short existence. Why is this?
Unlike Becket’s erudite literary work, the Bible makes a simple, concise statement that nails our deepest yearnings:
“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance…love will last forever!” 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 (NLT)
This is what gives substance to human existence with a certainty that endures and deserves our faith and hope: to love and be loved. “I’m addicted to love,” the singer Robert Palmer wrote. “The lights are on, but no one’s home” when “your heart is not your own.” Love has that kind of soporific effect because it fills our deepest human longing.
But what a curse that something so vital is so frail! Death suddenly whisks love away. Of course, the fickle nature of humans is inherently unpredictable, and who deserves such faith and hope? Becket’s antagonist made this point to those “waiting for Godot” – what a waste of time! Why depend on someone else for anything so vital as personal significance or happiness?
The ease with which love is terminated especially through divorce and abandonment or abuse produces people deeply cynical about relationships, and then deeply cynical about significance and purpose in life. It’s a contagious pessimism spread from one to another as more relationships fracture. Such deep hurt and disenchantment is so widespread, a new ethic is required to govern relationships.
Love Ethics become outdated, strange, lost perceptions, and replaced with an ethic more useful and easily adopted: “Live and Let Live” is one principle everyone can endorse, and it offers a margin of safety in a world where relationships are so unpredictable. But there is no substantial difference between “Live and Let Live” and simply, “Leave me alone!” This is no ethical challenge to God’s brilliant Love Ethics. “Live and Let Live” is no code of morality. It is, however, a declaration of loneliness, and it is cold, and it is bleak. Christ described this 2,000 years ago: “most people’s love will grow cold.”
Unpredictable, uncertain, random: these words describe love in the twenty-first century.
An alternative does exist, and so easily accessible it is! “God is love,” the Bible says. Those three simple words can sweep aside a vast landscape of hurt. Since “God is love,” it is certain that “love will last forever!” Even the most ardent atheist can see the potential if God exists. To know with certainty that God exists, that He loves, that we could experience His love—how could this be in any way unwelcome? If God exists, He created us to crave and require love. Surely it means that “God is love.”
The Bible alone claims that “God is love.” It is God’s own personal, written and clear request to invite us into a loving relationship, and He proves His good intentions by granting us the freedom to say “no.” He believes in us and loves us with His love which “never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
If “God is love” then we must deal with God if love will ever play a role in our experience. God is relevant. He will somehow impact all our relationships.
God intensely matters in human relationships. It is, in fact, the personal alienation between us and our Creator which forms the headwaters of what swells into wide, sweeping currents so dangerous like a river of deep alienation coursing through life. Beginning with parents, the alienation rolls over friendships, romances and returns full-cycle into our own offspring. Alienation is everywhere.
“Field of Dreams” captures the hope of release from the poisonous alienation which damages the heart from tender childhood on. It is the hope for a son and his father—their relationship lost in foolish quarrels, hopelessly entangled in a legacy of hateful words—to shed all those years of scars and face each other without pride choking the air! So sweet it is to finally spend time together as they longed in their hearts from the beginning! Father and son enjoy a simple, unencumbered love.
This hope is not a “Field of Dreams,” God promises. It is the way love should work, and love will work once the poisonous alienation is washed away. In the movie a fascinating exchange between father and son takes place:
Son: “Is there a heaven?”
Father: “Oh yeah…It’s the place where dreams come true.” (Listen to it here…)
This is not far from the truth, according to God:
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT)
A relationship can only work if something meaningful exists which binds all parties meaningfully. Therefore the inverse is true: through a relationship, I find meaning. The first, foremost, primary foundation for a meaningful relationship begins with God, the authentic “Father of spirits” as the Bible calls Him:
Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? Hebrews 12:9 (NASB)
- The Stylites
- Angry, Spiritual Spiderman